Lady Bucs lose to Davidson in home finale

By Marvin Birchfield

STAR Correspondent

   In their regular season finale, the Lady Bucs of ETSU came up just shy in the final minutes, suffering a 72-68 loss to the Davidson Wildcats at Brooks Gym on Saturday.
   "This was a tougher loss for us than it was the other night. We played with more intensity, but just made too many mistakes and bad passes," said Lady Buc coach Karen Kemp.
   The Lady Bucs finish the season with the record of 10-17 overall and 5-13 in conference play, which forces them to compete in a first-round elimination game in the Southern Conference tournament.
   "It's a new season for us now, and hopefully we can go into the tournament by putting together four good games and play to our ability," said Kemp.
   This was the last time that three of the Lady Buc seniors would get the opportunity to play at home, as they were honored in ceremony before the game.
   "I wished we could of won our final season game, especially for the seniors on our team," said Lauren Trantham.
   Trantham led the Bucs for the game in scoring and rebounding with 14 points and six boards.
   The Lady Bucs opened up with a fast start by grabbing a 15-5 lead in the first seven minutes of action.
   Kiya Verdell got the Buc offense started with a three-point shot from the outside.
   The inside play of Trantham and the running of the floor from Samantha Copeland assisted the Bucs in acquiring the early advantage.
   "It's time to prove that were not the worst team in the conference, and that we can win," said Trantham, referring to the up and coming Southern Conference tournament.
   The Wildcats responded in going on a 10-2 run in the next two minutes.
   Janna Magette led Davidson in its march back by nailing two threes and scoring 17 of her game high 23 points in the first half.
   Davidson was finally able to tie the contest by the 5:26 mark, when Meghan Bryant made the shot down low and drew a foul from Misty Copas.
   On their next possession, the Wildcats obtained their first lead of the game with a bucket from Bethany Schott on the inside.
   The Wildcats managed to pull ahead 35-29 by halftime, as the Bucs seemed to experience problems with the halfcourt trapping defense from Davidson.
   The Bucs made a hard-fought effort to get themselves on track in the second half.
   Senior player Leslie Burleson knocked down two three-point shots to get put some emotion back into the Buccaneer squad.
   "I felt like it gave us some momentum in the second half, but it seemed like every time we made a shot, they would come back and answer it," said Burleson.
   Burleson finished with her season-high 11 points along with four assist in her final game at Brooks Gymnasium.
   "It's disappointing to lose in our final season home game, but it's like the coach said. We have to get rested the next couple of days and regain our focus to be ready to play come tournament time," said Burleson.
   The Bucs kept within striking distance throughout the second half, and eventually tied the contest at 59 apiece as Erin Thurman popped a shot from beyond the arch.
   "I wished we could of won, but I love the time I have spent here, and this is a special area with special people," said Thurman, who resides from Hixson, Tenn.
   The Wildcats held the senior from her 9.1 points per game average to only three points and four assists.
   "It's just one game at a time now, and I feel like we will be looking forward to competing in the tournament," said Thurman.
   Davidson answered back with a bucket from Courtney Laird, along with a foul, to convert a three-point play.
   But Burleson responded with her third three-pointer of the half to draw ETSU even with the Wildcats as just under six minutes remained in regulation.
   The Bucs finally reassumed the lead with 3:45 left, with Misty Copas sinking two free-throws, making it 66-65.
   This was a short-lived lead, though, with Davidson regaining control by outscoring the Bucs 7-2 in the final three and a half minutes of play.
   Lady Bucs senior forward Meghan Jackson did not play in the season finale due to a re-aggravated knee injury in last Tuesday's event against Furman.
   "It was hard to set over on the bench and not be able to get out there and play in our final home game," said Jackson. "If I would of had my jersey with me, it would of been hard for them to hold me back."
   It's questionable whether or not she will return to the Buc line-up in their bid for the conference tournament.
   "I'm not sure if I'll get the opportunity to play in the tournament right now. My knee was still too swollen in being able to play today," said Jackson.